The Vulnerable Girls and Young Women’s Champions Group (VGYW Group) was established to address the needs of girls and young women who offend or who have been identified as being at ‘high risk’ of offending, and in recognition of the importance of female issues across all of the strands of the Framework. The Group will lead the promotion, dissemination and evaluation of best practice approaches for girls and young women whose behaviour has led or is leading towards involvement in youth justice systems.
The VGYW Group’s remit is set within the context of the National Performance Framework and local Single Outcome Agreements. Its work will primarily relate to four key National Outcomes:
- Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed.
- Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.
- We have improved life chances for children, young people and families at risk.
- We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger.
The VGYW Group’s approach to preventing offending by young people incorporates the key GIRFEC values and principles which recommend that practitioners in all agencies who are working with children, young people and their families facilitate a pathway for help. It also recognises that this must be within the context of a Whole System Approach which suggests that many young people could and should be diverted from statutory measures, prosecution and custody through early intervention and robust community alternatives.
Role of the group
The VGYW Group will link closely with the Scottish Government Care and Justice Team, CYCJ, the National Youth Justice Advisory Group and the National Youth Justice Development Team.
The role of the VGYW Group in taking forward the Framework on behalf of the YJSG is to:
- Develop a broad consensus, on behalf of the YJSG, of the objectives, opportunities and challenges within this theme and the overarching themes.
- Advise the YJSG on priorities for action and recommend specific activities to achieve priority targets.
- Undertake high-level engagement on behalf of the YJSG to get input and buy-in to the Framework implementation from stakeholders.
- Identify and bring to the YJSG issues and barriers to the progression of agreed priorities.
- Be accountable to the YJSG for progress against priorities and targets.
The remit of the VGYW Group is to develop and disseminate robust policy and practice advice which gives a strong voice to the experience and aspirations of girls and young women and is based on the best available information about their needs.
The group recognises that girls have a unique experience of and response to adversity and traumatic life events. Significant evidence points to a youth justice and social welfare system which does not take adequate account of gender differences and in doing so, compounds female vulnerability. The Group will consider and recommend how local authorities and their partners might develop more effective responses to girls and young women’s particular needs with an emphasis upon approaches with the strongest possible evidence bases.
The Group will take a systemic perspective to understanding the experience of girls and young women and consider practical ways of making services and interventions more sensitive and responsive to their needs.
The Group will consider how innovation and differences in local service provision can be supported while promoting equitable access to the best possible services regardless of geographical location.
The Group will promote a common language approach across the range of disciplines and agencies who work with ‘high risk’ girls and young women which supports robust data collection and analysis and strengthens the capacity of agencies to identify and respond to risk at the earliest possible stage.
The objective of the VGYW’s Group is:
To give a strong voice to vulnerable girls and young women in the development of policies which affect their lives and to influence changes in systems, cultures and practices which will improve their experiences and promote better life chances.
Key aims of the VGYW Group are:
- To influence policy and practice development across Scotland which is consistent with our aspirations for girls and young women to receive the best possible help matched to their individual needs at the earliest possible opportunity.
- To critically evaluate the capacity of existing systems and service arrangements to effectively meet the needs of vulnerable girls and young women and to consider what might need to change to enable success.
- To consider the extent to which current approaches to measuring outcomes are capturing the impact of different service provisions upon individual girls and young women.
- To identify gaps and inconsistencies in the national data profile of high risk girls and young women and recommend ways of ensuring robust and up-to-date information.
- To promote interventions with the strongest evidence base for girls and young women who display high risk behaviours and to promote the development of best quality evaluation of innovative local service approaches.
- To support networks of practice to support practitioners and monitor the impact of policy and national guidance upon local practice.